DETROIT (April 24, 2012) — A fifth Asian automotive component supplier has agreed to plead guilty to felony charges as part of an ongoing price-fixing investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice.
Fujikura Ltd., of Tokyo, has agreed to enter a guilty plea in U.S. District Court in Detroit to one count of price fixing. It will pay a $20 million fine for its role in a conspiracy to fix prices of automotive wire harnesses installed in U.S. vehicles, the department said.
According to the Justice Department, Fujikura engaged in a conspiracy to fix prices beginning as early as January 2006 through at least February 2010. The department said Fujikura and unnamed co-conspirators agreed during meetings and conversations in Japan “to allocate the supply of automotive wire harnesses and related products on a model-by-model basis and sold the parts at non-competitive prices to an auto maker in the United States and elsewhere.”
Under the plea agreement, the company has agreed to cooperate in the government's ongoing antitrust investigation, the department said.
Efforts to reach Fujikura for comment were unsuccessful. The phone number for the company's suburban Detroit office was disconnected, and no one could be reached at Fujikura's U.S. headquarters in Santa Clara, Calif.
Fujikura is the fifth automotive supplier that has agreed to plead guilty to felony charges in the U.S. since the Department of Justice's antitrust division launched its investigation in 2010. Three of the companies have entered pleas and have been sentenced to pay criminal fines totaling more than $748 million, the Justice Department said.
Others to plead guilty so far include wire harness market leader Yazaki Corp. ($470 million); Furukawa Electric Co. Ltd. ($200 million) ; Denso Corp. ($78 million) ; and G.S. Electech Inc. ($2.75 million).
The fine for Fujikura also follows an order in January by the Fair Trade Commission in Japan to pay 1.1 billion yen (about $14.4 million) in fines, along with Yazaki (9.6 billion yen, or about $125.8 million) and No. 2 supplier Sumitomo Electric Industries Ltd., (2.1 billion yen or about $27.5 million).
In addition, seven executives have pleaded guilty and have been sentenced to a total of more than 122 months in jail, the department said.
“The Antitrust Division will remain vigilant in its efforts to detect and prosecute anticompetitive conduct in this important industry, which affects virtually every American consumer,” Acting Assistant Attorney General Sharis A. Pozen, in charge of the Department of Justice's antitrust division, said in a written statement.
This report appeared in Automotive News, a Detroit-based sister publication of Tire Business. Reporter Chad Halcom of affiliate Crain's Detroit Business contributed to this story.